Hochfuegen’s freeride paradise

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Esther

Being a passionate road cyclist, Esther Wilhelm believes cycling is... View author

Today, more people than ever before venture off-piste. Whether you’re into ski-touring or freeriding, powder skiing is ‘in’. However, freeriding involves risks that can only truly be appreciated and understood with significant experience. When exploring beyond the marked pistes, without the support of the pisteurs or lift attendants, you have to take full responsibility for yourself and need a sound understanding of avalanche awareness and rescue, as well as an appreciation of how to ski in harmony with nature and wild animals.

SAAC Camp in Hochfuegen teaches freeriders the basics and helps them to minimise risk

SAAC Camp in Hochfuegen teaches freeriders the basics and helps them to minimise risk

How then, can ski resorts manage this growing trend, with increasing numbers of skiers and boarders using the lift systems to access the backcountry? Here, Hochfuegen could quite possibly be a flagship ski resort, having recognised and responded to the popularity of off-piste. Freeriders have been identified as a key target market here, and so appropriate facilities and services have been put in place for them.

The Freeride Point in Hochfuegen provides important information about current weather and avalanche conditions

The Freeride Point in Hochfuegen provides important information about current weather and avalanche conditions

In addition to information boards and electronic LVS checkpoints, Hochfuegen provides services to support responsible, fun and safe freeriding, in the form of guides, equipment and maps, as well as courses, workshops and training opportunities. In cooperation with local off-piste experts and external partners, Hochfuegen offers freeride fans a variety of courses and training opportunities, suitable for all ages and skill levels. For example, you can choose between introductory courses for beginners, guided tours for individuals and groups, multi-day freeride camps, avalanche and transceiver training workshops, or specialist camps for professional freeriders.

And this approach appears to be paying off. Hochfuegen is now known an off-piste hotspot with an impressive collection of freeride competitions gracing its event calendar. The highlight is definitely the Big Mountain event, where nearly 70 skiers and snowboarders compete in this four-star World Tour Qualifier, hoping to win World Cup points and secure themselves a place on the international tour.

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